O’Reilly promises in the first chapter that readers will “know precisely what’s going on in the United States” after combing through the book. Sounds impressive until one reaches the later chapters where O’Reilly reveals the pinhead/patriot status of Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, and Davy Crockett in a self-described stream of consciousness rant.
“P&P” does feature O’Reilly at his plainspoken best. Consider the author’s beautifully phrased tribute to the late Tony Snow, the ultimate patriot in O’Reilly’s eyes. His assessment of the McCain/Obama presidential race is sharply boiled down to a tech metaphor that makes sense in retrospect. The O’Reilly voice, blue collar and proud of it, comes through so clearly it’s as if he’s reading the book to you through a megaphone. A passage where he recreates the sounds at his dinner table growing up feels like a peek into the cauldron that forged the King of “No Spin.”
And it’s interesting to hear O’Reilly explain how he came up with his news analyst format from personal experience — including a controversial op-ed he penned during his college days — and years in the journalistic trenches. It’s no accident O’Reilly touched on a formula that made him one of the most successful news anchors ever.
The book still spends too much time on O’Reilly himself, from belaboring a point regarding a signed photograph of himself and the president to marveling at how kind Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama treated him during a White House Christmas party.
He risks coming off as an old fogy with passages bemoaning our high -tech culture. Yes, some social graces are suffering due to our reliance on texts and Tweets, but the average American can tap into a far greater wealth of information than ever before, and that’s bound to make the electorate sharper — if properly applied.
His point about technology connects to a certain presidential election — “Americans are losing the ability to think critically, and that will make it much easier for manipulative, charismatic politicians to gain power.”
Pinheads and Patriots touches on the bigger issues of the last two years, from the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts to the murders at Fort Hood. O’Reilly gives each his “No Spin” assessments, blasting both conventional wisdom and the left-leaning press in the process.
The book wheezes to a close by reprinting the text of O’Reilly’s 2008 interview with then-Sen. Obama. He stops occasionally to share his new reflections on the chat content.
O’Reilly clearly has a far different view of America and how it should be run than Obama. And yet Pinheads and Patriots can’t come out and say so without an asterisk attached.